Wedding Planning with Our Mothers

The Weddingbee boards have had quite a few threads in recent weeks about mothers who haven’t met expectations during their daughter’s engagements. We’re in a period when scores of newly engaged women are embarking on the planning process (the holidays, New Year’s, and Valentine’s Day seem to create a proposal bonanza) and I thought I’d share my thoughts on the mother-daughter relationship during wedding planning.

Most of us have grown up with pretty powerful messages about how wedding planning will work. We think our mothers will be by our sides constantly during this entire process. We may even think that planning with our mothers will improve our relationships with them. We believe our wedding day will allow us to feel the pinnacle of motherly love and affection.

007-bri

Image by Manuel Meszarvits

Some of our mothers will meet our lofty expectations. For many, though, our expectations are impossibly high.

We’ve chosen to believe those messages we got when we were younger and we’re crushed when the reality isn’t what we anticipated.

Despite knowing Mama Mink for 34 years, I was blindsided by her reaction to my phone call announcing that Mr. Mink proposed. I forgot to add that after she asked when we would get married, she told me that she had two other weddings to attend in the next year. I told her that I would hope her daughter’s wedding would take precedence over the weddings of the daughters of a friend. I laughed when I said this, but inside, I was deeply hurt.

Mama Mink isn’t a girly-girl. She’s a prim and proper woman who isn’t very demonstrative. I knew this, but for some reason, I expected her to morph into a bubbly, excited girlfriend who’d be fired up for wedding planning. I set myself up by expecting my mother to be someone she can’t be.

emily_r

From Style Me Pretty / Image by Kristin Light Photographie

The little girl inside us wants our mothers by our side throughout this entire process, but we sometimes need to remember that as adults, we don’t need them there. I think it’s fine to grieve a little bit over shattered expectations, but then we will move forward with vendor meetings and decision making like mature, independent women.

In time, I became thankful that Mr. Mink and I were able to plan our wedding together. I love the thought of being the hosts of our wedding and I see my mother’s lack of involvement in planning as giving her freedom to enjoy her day. She won’t be worrying about vendors or time-lines at our wedding. She’ll be our honored guest.

jenna_d

From Style Me Pretty / Image by Lindsay Carole Photography

How have you involved your mother in wedding planning? Did your expectations for your mother’s involvement in your planning process sync up with reality?

BLOGGER

Mrs. Mink

Location:
Charlottesville, Virginia
Wedding Date:
June 2012

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  1. Member
    Aud1628 540 posts, Busy bee @ 4:07 pm

    Thank-you so much for this post, so much in the wedding world you see the more traditional mom/daughter and father/daughter relationships playing a big role in the process of planning the wedding and within the wedding too, but so many of us do not have that, I come from a very untraditional family and have a unique story which never bothered me until my wedding, I realized so many things that I’ve missed out on and it makes me a little sad but on the other hand I am so blessed to have my fiance help me along the way and also that he has a wonderful family that love me and have accepted me as one of their own!

  2. Member
    likelimeade 882 posts, Busy bee @ 4:23 pm

    Thank you for this post! My mom has been exactly what I hoped she would be every step of the way, but my FMIL has definitely not. When I showed her a picture of my dress, she said, “That’s nice. What should I wear? I was thinking ivory…” Any time I ask her for her opinion or advice, she just says, “It’s your wedding.” Um, thanks a lot…it was hard for me to come to terms with too, but at least I know I won’t have a pushy MIL who will try to be all up in my bizness!

  3. Member
    Missbliss 869 posts, Busy bee @ 10:41 pm

    Interesting reading… I feel so blessed to call my mom a dear and true friend. I’m always surprised to find that it isn’t that way with others, but I do understand it. My mom has been refining her wedding planning skills for years, and really can’t figure out the need for wedding planners. Which is kinda funny considering that I’d like to start a event planning business!

  4. Member
    MrsKeAloha 1044 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:11 pm

    I had a mother break down a few months ago – and my mother cried and said how hard it was being a parent to adults. I still don’t know what she means but for her it is difficult. My Mom is the best Mommy to so many little kids, I can only imagine she wants us to look at her with those all knowing eyes.
    My mother has complained and in many ways sabotaged the plans I have worked so hard on, but I am so Far Away from her, I sometimes forget all she has going on at home. Basically, I know she is happy for us. I know she loves me unconditionally, we don’t have the same vision for this wedding or our lives, but I know she wants to be a part of it, and she is thrilled to be so.
    Wonderful Post Miss Mink – Thank you for it!

  5. Member
    runninginpink 45 posts, Newbee @ 11:53 am

    I feel like just the opposite with me and my mom. I live about 5 hours away from my parents, and they graciously suggested we have the wedding where Fiance and I live instead of where I grew up. I have been so used to doing everything on my own I just dove into planning with out realizing how much SHE wanted to be involved and how much SHE felt left out. Since then I have tried to make her feel like part of the planning and I cannot wait to have her with me that weekend.

  6. Guest Icon Guest
    k8e, Guest @ 1:08 pm

    great post, mrs. mink!

    i had always hoped my mom would be super interested and involved, but unfortunately she was diagnosed with early on-set dementia shortly after i graduated from college. she wasn’t involved in the planning – nor in the dressing and prep for the big day. it made me sad, but i’m just glad i was able to have her physically present on the day.

    that was important for me to think about.

  7. Member
    JuneBride2012 536 posts, Busy bee @ 4:06 pm

    This is such a great post, Miss Mink.

  8. Member
    mink 2178 posts, Buzzing bee @ 6:40 pm

    @lisaelanna: Aw, I’m sorry. I hope others read your comment and are inspired to talk to their moms about what both want from the planning process. :)

    @Miss Fox: I don’t think you’re alone! There are loads of threads about fathers on the boards. I honestly think people are almost shamed into silence when their parents aren’t perfect…but we’re human. We have baggage. We have to give each other permission not to fit the strict roles that we’ve be led to believe are “normal.”

    @miss.sarah: I hope so, too! Best wishes to your mom!

    @Mrs. Pony: Agreed. Managing expectations is so important.

  9. Member
    mink 2178 posts, Buzzing bee @ 6:53 pm

    @Aud1628: Looking at the comments here, it seems like the vast majority of us have parents who are totally human…meaning imperfect. The wedding blogs just show us snapshots from the day. People are too complex for relationships to be perfect all the time, but the pictures might lead us to believe that.

    @likelimeade: Aw, good luck with your FMIL!

    @Missbliss: I think most would say their mothers are dear and true friends…but some are not physically near us or capable of planning a wedding and I think we are seeing the reversal of roles that others may see later in life.

    @Miss Ke Aloha: I think this is so, so common! You are not alone.

    @runninginpink: Aw, your poor mom! She sounds great. :)

    @k8e: I’m so sorry, k8e. I really hope she is well enough to attend when the times comes.

    @JuneBride2012: Thanks, JuneBride. :)

  10. Member
    Bernie06 5 posts, Newbee @ 11:47 pm

    Relationships during our wedding planning, at the wedding and even after the big day are going to change. Things we never expected or knew could happen, will and it’s not always all bad or all good. I highly recommend for all BRIDES-TO-BE to read this book:

    The Conscious Bride: Women Unveil Their True Feelings about Getting Hitched
    Author: Sheryl Paul

    There’s so many parts of this book that gets straight to the heart of explaining WHY I’m feeling the way I do. Things I had a difficult time putting into words but knew I was feeling were all here and I felt so…relieved! I’m not the only one! It’s normal! The best parts was reading true stories from other brides about how their experiences were and lets say, not all of them were pretty or follows the image many of us were brought up to believe. I love the honesty in this book and recommend it highly. It’s put so many things in perspective for me and helped me ease through this process. Planning a wedding isn’t all about going down your to-do list. It’s about you, your husband and the relationships around you.

  11. Member
    awesomeryl 32 posts, Newbee @ 7:02 pm

    In the beginning, when everything was green grass & pastures, mother was involved in everything. Why (considering our history & relationship) I thought things were suddenly going to go smooth? I have no idea. Maybe it is the fairytale ending I’d want to end all the ‘bad’ years my mother & I have gone through. Well, in what should have been no surprise to me (or Mr. Meryl), things quickly went from, “Yay! We’re getting married!” to (a midst crying after crying day x three weeks) “Can we just do it in Vegas?”

    The last straw was when she insulted FH’s parents over $, and well, then we decided to do everything ourselves (she’s only paying for the few friends she’s bringing). Being too awkward of a position for my dad to play middle man to, we agreed that this is the best way. Now, with six months to go, I just wish we made this decision before she had put the deposit on the hotel SHE wanted, but well, c’est la vie.

    Things have definitely gotten better (not to say there’s no room for improvement!) – my dad has definitely drilled it in her head that this day is about ME & MR., not about her, her ego and her family. False hope continues to make me wish she’ll bloom into this beautiful, calming, wonderful piece of the wedding, but, well, for now, I’ll take the fact that she’s not barraging down my door (even at work!) with how everything is not to her liking, not in the colors she likes, not fancy enough for her, blah blah blah.

  12. Guest Icon Guest
    Mrs. P., Guest @ 8:06 pm

    Wow. It was really good for me to read all this.

    My mother was also distant during my w edding planning. She always favored my brother over me so it didn’t really surprise me. We’ve never been close. Still, for some reason, we do tend to think our mothers will suddenly become our closest friend once we get engaged.

    My mother not only said they would not be helping in any way, but also said we should pick a date that best suits them and that I should buy HER dress as well as pay for my dads tux rental!!!!!!
    No, they’re not poor in any way either! I was so mad at her. But I didn’t show it. I kept a smile and a sweet attitude the whole way through.

    Finally, a month before the wedding, se tried to break me and my fiancé up!!!! Turns out she just wasn’t happy for me. And not because of anything I’ve done to her, but rather because she just isn’t happy in her life and didnt want me to be either. Misery truly loves company.

    Some mothers arrive to make sure their daughters have a better life than they did and that’s the car for most. But others, sadly, get jealous if their daughter ends up happier then them. It’s a shame.

    She didn’t even come to my wedding. That was 2 years ago and you know what, looking back, I see that she is the one who misused out and that I had a very wonderful weding day! It was perfect. :)

    You can’t let yourself stop living or enjoying special moments in life because someone else isn’t sharing your happiness. It’s disappointing yes, but you can’t let it rule you or define your wedding day!

    The Thing to remember is to stay focused. Focused on the main goal and that is to marry the man of your dreams! As long as you both say “I DO” and become Mr.&Mrs, that’s all that truly matters. :)

    It was good for me to see though that there are other women with less than loving mothers. Your burden doesn’t seem so bad web you see that others carry the same or similar thing.

    Thank you all for sharing. :)

  13. Guest Icon Guest
    Christina, Guest @ 8:52 am

    My mother has been completely unpredictable. Either she’s got multiple personalities, or she has early onset Alzheimer’s. So far: She’s banned me from bringing my FMIL to shop for dresses because she is my mother, not her. She denies ever saying that now. She’s asked her boss (a doctor) to be my photographer, told me after the fact and yelled at me for saying I had to see his work and to run things like this by me BEFORE “hiring” anyone. She’s demanded that she invite everyone she’s ever met (damn near) to the wedding. Including, but not limited to a co-worker she hasn’t worked with in 18 years, and probably hasn’t seen in at least 5-7 years. Apparently, she also feels my family isn’t involved in the wedding (I haven’t picked my party or even got a venue yet), and wants me to force my fiance to ask my brother to be a groomsman (when he has 4 brothers of his own). I guess her daughter being THE BRIDE isn’t enough. And I’m apparently a Bridezilla for saying anything other than “Yes mother”. Not sure what to make of all of this. Just chalking it up to excitement I guess. But it’s exhausting.

  14. Guest Icon Guest
    Melinda, Guest @ 9:55 am

    Oh, my goodness when I saw this post I definitely had to read it. I can totally relate to it in more ways in one. My mother has thankfully started to recently help take charge on helping with my wedding, which is taking place next month. However, my MOH on the other hand has sadly been a true disappoinment in not being involved in much of anything. What makes it worse that my MOH is my only sister. She’s has alot going on in her personal life, which I totally sympathize with and I have been there for her over the years. I guess me assuming since I had been there to help her out when she’s need me time after time I figured she would be there for me when I needed her most. However, that hasn’t been the case for me. I’ve tried to get her to become more involved, but sadly she just doesn’t seem interested and I’m beginning to feel she could careless about one of the biggest days in my life. For the most part we’ve been very close growing up, but unfortunately these past few months have not been what I envisioned at all. I’m trying not to let it bother me, but honsestly it’s breaking my heart and I’ve had my share of breakdowns. On the brighter side I’m grateful that my future hubby has been there for me (through breakdowns and all). He’s been apart of our entire wedding planning and I appreciate every bit of his involvement. I don’t know what I do without him.

  15. Guest Icon Guest
    Mrs +P., Guest @ 1:10 pm

    @Christina: @Christina: @Christina:
    I totally understand what you’re saying. I’ve done enough weddings now though to realize that mothers most often have been planning their daughters weddings longer than the daughter has. Like from birth. Being a mother, my son is only 8 yet I already find myself wondering who he will end up with and will she be good to him, will she and I get along, will they have kids, what will their wedding be like, etc. we want the best for our children. The thing is though, we all have our own idea of what “the best” is. We may have one idea while our motets have a whole other idea.
    Over all though, the fact always remains that emotions run high during the engagement season and it is important to har a mediator. Like a wedding planner outside of the family.

    Its important to be honest yet loving. Remember that she probably means well. But her baby girl is getting married. Thats a HUGE day in the life of a mom.

    Good luck!

  16. Guest Icon Guest
    SMB43, Guest @ 12:32 pm

    It’s always good to keep your expectations in check because my expectations out of life and people are usually too high, and the let down is disappointing. Luckily, my expectations were exceeded by my mom. I knew she would be happy and involved, but without realizing it, we have gotten closer. We love each other, of course, but despite the fact that I grew up a “Momma’s Girl”, we never had a really close relationship. We have lived about 9 hours apart for almost 5 years now, and only spoke on the phone about once a month, and only came home for Christmas and a week or so in the summer. Since I got engaged a year ago, our bond has become stronger, we talk more, and I appreciate her more. I am so grateful for everything she is doing (and has done) for me.

  17. Guest Icon Guest
    soexcitedtobegettingmarried, Guest @ 10:24 am

    I am having quite a strange problem. I don’t want any help with wedding planning! I have never been a micro-manager before, but this time, I really want it to be all my and my fiance’s doing. I don’t even really need help because I’ve got a while before the wedding. So far neither my mother or my FMIL have been too insistent, but I feel like I should delegate at least some responsibility on them. Am I correct? Is it weird for them not to be involved?

  18. Member
    SoCalBelle 101 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:29 am

    I know this is an old thread but this topic always catches my eye because it’s my biggest anxiety about getting married. My FMIL is sooo opposite of my mom – she’s the kind that’s always winking and hinting to all of her children and their SO’s about marriage, grandchildren… She can’t wait.

    My mom on the other hand, is a volatile pendulum of hyper-opinionated and cold/rejecting. My fiancé is convinced she’s undiagnosed bipolar (conveniently she ” doesn’t believe in psychologists so it’s unlikely to be tested or resolved). My parents are fairly well off and she doesn’t have to work. Still she’s generally miserable when it comes to any family matters- she’s always talking badly about everyone else and when I come to visit for holidays she seriously goes back and forth about a) insisting I must hate her if I haven’t planned to stay longer in their home or b) telling me I should get my own hotel room…multiple back and forths.

    I think I’m just going to ask my dad to talk things over wih her and let me know on both their behaves what aspects are important to them so that I can honor them. The rest I’m hoping to take care of myself with the help of friends FMIL and maybe a planner too.

    Thanks to everyone who posted here,it’s very comforting and inspiring , and @Bernie06 I am always glad to find book recommendations. Another thread led me to one I too now HIGHLY recommend called “Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the daughters of Narcissistic Mothers” By Dr. Karyl McBride. I’m still not comfortable saying (even in my head) that my mom has NPD possibly, but it’s not what you’d think it’s not about being vain, but moreso if your mom’s criticisms come from a place of not acknowledging you as a separate person and/or worrying more about what others think of her based on your choices.

  19. Member
    honeybeelove 340 posts, Helper bee @ 6:02 am

    I am struggling with the whole mother dynamic as well, but for a slightly different (but mostly similar) way. My dad was told he needs an organ transplant right around the same time FH proposed. So needless to say, the first 6 months of our engagement hasn’t been all flowers and singing birds. My mom told me “it is hard to wrap my head around planning a wedding and dealing with your father”. Now, of course that sounds completely logical. But, knowing my mother, well, there is always a backstory to it. My dad is in stable condidtion, and my mother is known for dwelling on the negative of every situation and every person. She always has something bad to say about other people, and makes fun of me for being a postitive, peaceful person (ugh, I know). I invited her, my dad, and my sister to try on wedding gowns, and (not sure why i’m surprised here, but I was) my sister was the only one to get really excited. My mom claimed she “had a bladder infection coming on” (which never transpired into anything—just an excuse for her being distant) and positioned herself into the corner and when I had to beg her for a reaction, she said “you know what you want better than I do”. … really? That’s all I get? On numerous occasions I’ve tried to ask her about wedding stuff, and she just hands me files from my other siblings’ weddings. I have tried to show her pictures of dresses or decorations, and she sighs “more wedding stuff??” (!!!) I tell her I am meeitng up with my sister to plan wedding stuff, and she’s like “oh, sure don’t include me” but when I genuinely encourage her to come, she said, “no, that’s ok, some other time”. I just don’t get it. I am left to plan on my own (with the help of you wonderful bees!!! and sometimes my sister). I will never understand the mother/daughter dynamic, but I am glad to know its not just me, and that I can come to the hive for support! Thanks gals!

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